NOW WHAT?

About the election.

I am embarrassed and ashamed that we have elected, as the President of the United States, Our National Embarrassment (ONE).  I am embarrassed because, for the next four years, ONE will be the face of our beloved United States to the rest of the world.  This great country will be represented by an ignorant, incompetent, narrow-minded, self-absorbed bigot.  And the whole world will know him for exactly that.

More importantly, I am ashamed because we elected him.  Yes, we.  You and I.  I am an American.  I live in a representative democracy.  When we hold an election, we all live with the results.  Those who strove to resist and obstruct the presidency of Barack Obama from its beginning were guilty of an attack on America itself.  If I am an American, I must accept the will of the people announced in an election.

My shame lies in the fact that I did not do enough to defeat ONE.  I understand that Hillary Clinton was deeply flawed, but we only had two choices, and, for all her faults, Clinton was vastly more qualified and infinitely more experienced than ONE.  If I loved my country, and I certainly do, I should have spent every available minute working to communicate that fact to my fellow Americans.  I failed to do that, and for that I am deeply ashamed.

That said, I have only one task:  get over it.  Think about it.  We elected ONE.  ONE is our president.  Regardless of the fact that the majority of people voted for Clinton, millions of our fellow Americans voted for ONE, and they are our fellow Americans, our brothers and sisters.  If we refuse to accept their will, if we insist on rejecting the results of the election, we will allow the United States to become two armed camps, and if we do that, we are threatening the very essence of what it is to be an American.

And just what is it to be an American?  Legally, of course, it is to be recognized by the government as a citizen, to be recorded in some fashion as holding that status.  Far more importantly, however, to be an American is to adhere to the American ideal upon which this country was formed, the ideal that has, for this country’s entire existence, drawn the admiration and respect of people around the world.  To be an American is to hold without question that all human beings are created equal, and that all human beings are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, rights such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

We have not always lived up to those ideals.  At the moment we first stated them, we were engaged in such violations of those ideals as slavery and genocide and the denial of rights to women.  But they are our ideals.  We outlawed slavery and ended our genocidal policies and worked to recognize the rights of women.  To this day we violate those ideals.  Slavery of various kinds is still with us, and bigotry against native Americans and other minorities is still common, and we have yet to recognize the full equality of women.

Nevertheless, equality and human rights are our ideals, and we are Americans, in the deepest sense of that word, if and only if we are dedicated to the pursuit of those ideals.  If we allow America to continue as two armed camps, if we insist on excluding those millions of people who elected ONE from our definition of America, then we are throwing away the very notion of what it is to be an American.

If, on the other hand, we continue to accept that ideal, then our duty is clear.  The absolutely first thing is to reach out to those who voted for ONE and try to understand why.  I have friends, good and dear friends, who voted for ONE, and not one of them is a bigot or a narcissist.  These people sent a message the only way they could, and if you wish America to continue to aspire to its ideal, you need to strive to understand that message.

Second, and equally important, you really need to get off the sideline.  And that is a promise I make to you.  I have for far too long sat and listened only to those who agree with me.  I have far too long declined to actively campaign for needed changes in law and policy.  I need, we need, to be involved.  We need, first, to listen to those with opposing views, understand them, take from them what is good and point out that which is not.  Second, we need to identify and clearly define those policies that we feel are most likely to promote the American ideal, and we need to actively promote those policies.  I have previously stated the policies I feel are most critical:  income equality, universal health care, restoration and protection of the environment, immigration reform.  That may not be your list, but you need to make one, and you need to make sure that it consists solely of those items that promote the American ideal.

Ours is a government of laws, not of personalities.  It is, however, deeper than that.  It is a government formed on an ideal, and all its actions — the positions it states, the policies it implements, the laws it passes — are to be judged on whether they promote the equality and fundamental rights of all human beings.  And it is our government.  It will work only if we work it.

Group hug.  Get ‘er done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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